Of the consumers that travel, only a minority pauses to consider the implications of their online activity when they are away from home. Our survey questioned consumers – 97% of whom had travelled to another country during the past 12 months – about their digital habits abroad. It found that in the world of work and leisure, we are a well-travelled lot, but we tend to leave our digital security at home. Of those surveyed, more than half of respondents (58%) travelled abroad for leisure more than once in the last 12 months. Half (49%) travelled abroad in the past year on business, and a third (32%) have done so more than once. The number is highest in Asia Pacific (64%) and the US (63%); one in five (20%) Americans work abroad at least monthly. When travelling, either for pleasure or work, we hardly give a second thought to how we connect, where we connect, and who might be ‘listening’ in.

The report shows our urge to be connected at whatever cost, and our indiscriminate attitudes and behaviors when searching out connectivity options abroad, are putting both our private and company data at risk. People more likely to be robbed of their data than their travel money abroad; one in five people generally, and three in 10 senior business managers, have been hit by cybercrime while abroad. Half of us are online by the time we leave the airport; the second nature of digital communications, plus the pressure from work, is driving people to connect to the first-available Wi-Fi network, regardless of security. Three in four people connect to free public Wi-Fi when abroad; a third connect with work devices, rising to almost half of business leaders. Half of people rely on their old internet habits from home to stay safe when surfing online abroad. Almost half of people bank or shop online via Wi-Fi on personal devices when abroad; a third use Wi-Fi to transmit confidential work information on work devices.

Business people assume their work devices are safer because of in-built security; twice as many think, if they are to be sent abroad to work, then their employers should accept the associated security risks. The research, undertaken for Kaspersky Lab by Toluna research agency, surveyed 11,850 employed individuals who travel abroad for business and leisure, about their attitudes towards using their devices and connecting to the internet whilst abroad. Participants across 23 countries (Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia Pacific and the US) took part in the research. Not all the survey results have been included in this report. To request further data please contact Kaspersky Lab at prhq@kaspersky.com. The urge to connect immediately on touching down abroad means the majority of people are connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks and putting their personal data at risk. The research finds cybercrime is commonplace when abroad, and yet three quarters of people (82%) connect to unsecured, free-at-use public access Wi-Fi networks (such as at airport terminals, hotels, cafes and restaurants). On leaving the airport, nearly half of us (44%) are already online, with 50% connected by the time we arrive at the hotel.

Indeed, our digital lives are second nature, and we are hardly inclined to change our behaviors as we roam away from our homes, and our trusted home networks. Half (50%) of people say they forget their connected devices are packed with highly personal and sensitive information – just because they use them for so many other things, such as for calls, cameras, and navigation. But away from home, and away from familiar communications networks, the lack of regard for network security plays into the hands of cybercriminals. Indeed, although consumers are more afraid of physical crime, they are more likely to be mugged virtually than physically when abroad, with data, rather than travel money ending up in the wrong hands. Almost one in five (18%) have been victims of cybercrime while traveling, with one in ten (9%) hit while shopping and 6% when banking online. 7% were infected by malware from an email. We go on holiday to relax, and get away from it all.

15%, for example, say they drink more when they are abroad (with the UK smashing the average, at 29%). But just because we are relaxing more, doesn’t mean we should be letting our guard down. We might be enjoying ourselves on holiday, but our digital habits often remain the same abroad. And that can put travelers at risk. The research also revealed that when they are traveling and connected to Wi-Fi, people conduct dangerous activities online. According to the study, more than half bank (61%) and shop (55%) online via Wi-Fi when they are abroad. Almost half (46%) visit websites of a sensitive nature, and 70% post something on social media. The research uncovers other ‘truths’ as well. Almost one in five have left personal devices with hotel concierges (19%), or handed them to strangers to take pictures (18%). Almost three in 10 (28%) have left them unsupervised in public spaces. Without casting aspersions, such statistics appear to demonstrate the casualness with which people guard their devices.

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